As far as workhorses go, the Mercedes-Benz Unimog is hard to beat.
Exceptional ground clearance, more torque than most supercars and a rugged ladder-frame chassis means the versatile Unimog is a firm favourite among forestry workers, government departments and armies.
It's soldiered on in the same basic format since its birth in the early 1950s, and the current model architecture has been around since the year 2000.
But there's still plenty of life left in it, and for 2013 Mercedes-Benz has given the humble Unimog a substantial powertrain upgrade
The full range of four and six-cylinder engines are now fully Euro VI emissions compliant, and a 5.1 litre four cylinder has joined the line-up.
In the U4023 and U5023, the new four-cylinder turbodiesel produces 170kW and a stout 900Nm of torque, while the gearbox has been reinforced for extra durability.
There's still eight forward speeds and six reverse speeds (plus optional crawler ratios), for ultimate off-road flexibility.
The 7.7 litre turbodiesel inline six remains available, with power ranging between 200kW and 220kW while torque peaks at 1200Nm.
In the U4000 and U5000-series Unimogs, the engine has been relocated 1 metre rearwards to free up more cabin space and give a taller seating position.
Relocating the engine also allows the power-take-off unit to be directly engine-driven, rather than transmission-driven.
In the baby UXXX-series Unimogs, the cabin has also undergone an extensive re-work to improve outward visibility, and LED daytime running lamps are now integrated into the front bumper.
Two new variants have also joined the range, in the form of the U216 and U218. With a wheelbase of just 2800mm (200mm shorter than the existing U300 Unimog), the U2XX models have an almost car-like 12.6 metre turning circle.
Both the U216 and U218 are powered by a turbodiesel 5.1 litre inline-four, with outputs of 115kW and 130kW respectively. Peak torque for the entry-level U216 is a substantial 650Nm, so you could never accuse it of being a lightweight.
The larger U300, U400 and U500 series Unimogs retain their four and six-cylinder powerplants, and all models now allow the driver to switch between manual drive and hydrostatic drive while in motion at speeds up to 50km/h.
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